Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/81

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61
ITS CHARACTER AND CAUSE.

scure men, laboring among the poor and oppressed, who, in their misery and degradation, felt that the Church had failed in its mission, whether through the worldliness of its ministers or through defects in its doctrine. Among these lost sheep of Israel, like the Goim, whom, neglected and despised by the rabbis, it was Christ's mission to bring into the fold, they found ready and eager listeners, and the heresies which they taught divide themselves naturally into two classes. On the one hand we have sectaries holding fast to all the essentials of Christianity, with antisacerdotalism as their mainspring, and on the other hand we have Manichaeans.

In briefly reviewing these and their vicissitudes, it must be borne in mind that, with scarce an exception, the authorities are exclusively their antagonists and persecutors. Saving a few Waldensian tracts and a single Catharan ritual, their literature has wholly perished. We are left, for the most part, to gather their doctrines from those who wrote to confute them or to excite popular odium against them, and we can only learn their struggles and their fate from their ruthless exterminators. I shall say no word in their praise that is not based upon the admissions or accusations of their enemies ; and if I reject some of the abuse lavished upon them, it is because that abuse is so manifestly conscious or unconscious exaggeration that it is deprived of all historical value. In general, the prima facie case may be assumed to be in favor of those who were ready to endure persecution and face death for the sake of what they believed to be truth ; nor, in the existing corruption of the Church, can it be imagined, as the orthodox controversialists assumed, that any one would place himself outside of the pale for the purpose of more freely indulging disorderly appetites.

The fact is, as we have seen, that the highest authorities in the Church admitted that its scandals were the cause, if not the justification, of heresy. An inquisitor who was actively engaged in its suppression enumerates among the efficient agents in its dissemination the depraved lives of the clergy, their ignorance, leading to the preaching of false and frivolous things, their irreverence for the sacraments, and the hatred commonly entertained for them. Another informs us that the leading arguments of the heretics were drawn from the pride, the avarice, and the unclean lives of clerks and prelates. AU this, according to Lucas, Bishop of Tuy, who laboriously confuted heterodoxy, was exaggerated by false